Whether you’re a pro athlete or just starting on your fitness journey, what you eat is just as important as how much you train. In many ways, the two have a direct effect on each other — your nutrition can help fuel performance, and getting fit can help you make better food choices.
You don’t have to be prepping for the next games to get your eating up to gold-medal standards, either. Here are some tips that can help you sprint toward healthy habits:
Set aside time for meal prep
Elite athletes all have very different training needs, but one strategy they tend to share is meal prep. That means taking the time, usually once or twice per week, to cook and prepare numerous meals so they’re easy to grab later. This tactic helps you incorporate more vegetables and lean protein into meals, and boosts your resistance to fast, bad-for-you options during a busy week.
This seems like a no-brainer, but research has noted that less than half of Americans eat breakfast daily. And some of those who do have breakfast have questionable definitions of a good meal — like having soft drinks and sugary pastries as their first meal of the day. Choose better options and you’ll see benefits for the rest of the day. And remember, breakfast doesn’t have to be traditional choices like cereal, eggs, and toast. Many athletes find that having a dinner-type meal — from salad to steak — helps fuel them better.
Thankfully, we’re out of the low-fat phase of nutritional advice. That’s because healthy fats are vital for making you feel full for longer, and can even help the absorption of some vitamins. Incorporate a healthy fat into every meal, with options like olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, butter (the real stuff), ghee, and coconut oil. Also add in some fatty fish like salmon and sardines.
Eat whole foods
Everyone gets busy, and it’s fine to grab a protein bar occasionally to fuel up, especially before working out. But in general, try to gravitate mainly toward whole, unprocessed foods. Think broccoli, salads, brown rice, apples, steel-cut oatmeal and other options that have gone through minimal processing, if at all. These foods contain plenty of fiber, which leads to better gut health, and they tend to be nutrient dense, so you can have smaller meals and still get what you need nutritionally.
Professional athletes tend to eat the same meals every day while training, because that takes the guesswork out of their meal planning. But for everyday people who want to keep their health on track, diversity is important because it allows you to get a wider range of vitamins, minerals, protein sources, healthy fats, and carbs. Try bringing in one new vegetable option to your meals every week, and if it’s seasonal, that’s even better.
With strategies like these, you’ll be eating like a champion. Even more importantly, you’ll be feeling like one.
If you’re ready to put all that new energy to work, consider taking some classes that can boost your gold-medal habits. Sign up for a UFC GYM Free Pass today.
This content was originally published here.